Monday, May 12, 2008

A Day Late and A Dollar Short

So technically the Recipe Exchange recipes were due yesterday, but the ever understanding Amy gave me an extension. Meanwhile I HATE letting people down, and I know that whoever sent in the recipe I was supposed to make is probably tapping their toes anxiously waiting for the results. I feel really bad about that so I summoned up some fortitude and accomplished the feat today. Only a day late! That being said, I'm going to take a little hiatus from the kitchen while things hopefully work themselves out. I'll be back soon, I promise.

The theme of this month's exchange was Family Recipes. I'll let you in on a little secret about my family recipes. My great grandmother on my father's side was definitely the cook in the family. her dishes always had people begging for the recipe. And she always complied and gave the recipe. Except for one little fact. My great grandmother on my father's side was also the evil one in the family. She would always leave out a key ingredient or step in the recipe. "Why would she do that?" You may ask. I'll tell you why. She left out a key ingredient so when the next person made it they'd shake their head and say "It's just not as good as when Zelda makes it!" My great grandmother on my father's side was also the genius in the family.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Grandma Williams, the creator of this recipe is very similar to my great grandmother. Only because this recipe did not come out nearly as well as anticipated AND I followed the directions exactly. Or nearly exactly. Which is another reason why I'm going to take a break from the kitchen because I think the meds are affecting my mad skillz.

I'll walk you through it. My remarks are in red.....just in case you can't tell.

Spaghetti Sauce

by Grandma Williams

3 12 oz cans tomato paste

3 15 oz cans tomato sauce

1/2 tbsp salt

pepper to taste

1 tbsp instant minced onions (or the real stuff) I used the real stuff. Not that it matters.

1/2 tbsp instant minced garlic (or the real stuff) See above.

scant 3 tbsp sugar

4 tbsp dried basil

3 cans water (use tomato sauce for water)

Fry tomato paste in oil until it can be formed into a ball. I'm sorry. Until it forms a what? Mine never balled up. Basically I fried it until it was shiny. Add tomato sauce, water and other ingredients.

Mix, bring to a boil. Turn to low & simmer 4-5 hours (the longer it cooks, the better it tastes! And it freezes very well) This is where "War of the Kitchen" began. When this baby boils it REALLY boils. Bubbles of tomato sauce ALL over the kitchen. It made me want to cry. But I didn't. Instead I kept playing with the heat until there was BARELY a flame below it. And STILL it kept sending Tomato volcanoes all over the place. I yelled to Thatboy "That's it. I'm going to put a cover on this thing before someone gets hurt." And that's when the tomato sauce heard me. It heard me and it sent a missile STRAIGHT for me. I have a beautiful red thumb to show for it. And I'm quite certain the new neighbors expect to find my body in a dumpster after the screaming that went on. I had to stop cooking the sauce after 3 hours because by this time it had almost solidified. There was very little liquid left and it was much more similar to tomato paste than tomato sauce.

Italian Meatballs

by Grandma Williams

2 eggs, well beaten

1 lb. ground beef I used the ground veal I had in the freezer.

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tbsp parsley, minced

1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese

1 tsp salt

3 tbsp oil

Combine all ingredients except oil. Mix well. With wet hands shape into 16 balls. Brown in hot oil slowly, shaking pan often. I SWEAR I did this. But I don't usually fry my meatballs, so this was a new test for me. Instead of meatballs I ended up with meat patties. When I put them in the pan they just flattened.

Drain. Add to spaghetti sauce last 1-2 hours of cooking. Yeah...those meat patties? Completely disintegrated when I put them in the sauce. I'm very go with the flow, so I shrugged it off (or as best as I'm able to shrug) and figured "Whatever - MEAT SAUCE!"

Fresh Pasta

Adapted from Nook & PantryBold

1 cup flour I used whole wheat flour

2 large eggs

Make a mountain of flour on your work surface, then create a crater in the center. Add your eggs in the crater. Use a fork and beat the eggs in the crater incorporating a little bit of the flour at a time. Once the egg mixture begins to look like a batter, you can start incorporating more of the flour into the dough. After mixing all the flour, you will end up with a dough. If the dough is still sticky, add some more flour. Knead by pushing with the heel of your palm, fold the dough in half, give it a half turn, and repeat the process for 8 minutes or until it feels smooth. Marcella did not specify to let the dough rest but I let the dough rest, covered in a bowl (dish towels work great for this), for 15-20 minutes.

Cut the dough into 3 equal portions. Take one portion of the dough and press it flat, then run it through the pasta machine on the widest setting. Fold the dough in thirds and run the narrow end into the machine again. Repeat twice more. Do this to the remaining 2 portions of dough. Now you should have 3 portions of dough that have been passed through the widest setting 3 times each. Go up one setting, and run each portion of dough through twice, but do not fold in thirds this time, just run it straight through twice. Repeat with the two other pieces of dough. Go up one setting, and repeat again. After running the pasta through the #3 setting twice more, run it through the spaghetti cutter (the middle cutter between fettuccine and angel hair). Separate any noodles that did not get cut all the way through. Lightly toss the noodles in some flour.

So I was REALLY excited about this part. I was so excited I made Thatboy go out and get me a pasta machine. I've always wanted a pasta machine. I love homemade pasta. And things started out SO well! I had such high hopes. Even though it took much closer to 2 cups of flour than 1. And then the machine failed to cut the spaghetti - so I ended up with a beautiful crimped sheet of pasta. I painstakingly pulled each strand of spaghetti apart and put them in a bowl. I figured I'd toss all the noodles in flour at the end. BIG mistake. HUGE. By the time I had made all three sections my bowl was just one clump of spaghetti dough. There was nothing to do but try try again. I added a little flour and made a ball and tried again. This time the pasta cutter worked and I tossed each sheet immediately after cutting. I was feeling pretty good by this point.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt the water, then add the pasta. Cook for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes or until the pasta is al dente. Drain the pasta reserving some of the pasta water to thin out the sauce if necessary.

The end result:

Yum!!!!! Thatboy loved it, and we have plenty of sauce for many pastas to come. I'm not sure whether I'm amazing, he's kind, or he's been dipping into my meds. Whatever the reason dinner was a hit. But I'd be willing to bet it wasn't nearly as good as Grandma Williams makes it.


  1. that is one hell of a complicated recipe to make for someone who is not feeling great. i'm majorly impressed!

  2. What the...? All that for spaghetti and meatballs? You're a champ.

  3. That IS quite the commitment to spaghetti and meatballs. I have a battle wound (read: burn) from this week's cooking adventures too.

    A spaghetti maker is on the list of things to buy when I have a larger kitchen.

    Hope everything is ok and that the medicine is working.

  4. you made fresh pasta.

    [speechless, in awe]

  5. Your spaghetti sauce story had me in hysterics. Easy for me to say when I'm a gazillion miles away. I have on more than one occasion started sauce, picked up a phone call, walked to the other room to come back to hell's fury.

    Get some rest - you're being way to type "A" and I mean that in a kind way.

  6. This sounds like something that happens to me all the time. Things are never as easy as they originally look. ;) But the end result looks yummy!

  7. Grandmas are sneaky like that. I never knew my own Grandmothers but I've been given some recipes by other people's Grandmas recently which I'm sure aren't the same as when they make it, but hey it's still good.

    You did a lot of work for this dish! Don't blame you for wanting to take a little break, especially when you're not in top form anyways! Hope you're well again soon...... and that you got a fun bandaid for your thumb!

  8. I think I would have loved the Grandma! That is funny that she always made sure to leave something out.

  9. Pasta machine? How fun is that! I want one.

    I have never boiled or even heated marinara sauce from scratch or a jar that it didn't pop and bubble and make a mess of my stove. Everything I make seems to. I don't know what my problem is.

    One thing about things tasting different. Have you ever noticed that a number of people can make the same Toll House chocolate chip cookies and they ALL come out slightly different?

  10. your great grandma is one sneaky person! haha. yummm pasta!

  11. Tag you're it! Go here to see it:

  12. Oh YM! That looks delicious!

  13. Fresh pasta?!!!!

    [bowing down]

  14. looks great! i love family recipes and kudos on the fresh pasta! i'm going to give it a try next week!